Call center workforce management (WFM) is the backstage hero of call centers, ensuring the right agents are ready to shine at the right time. It balances forecasting, scheduling, and real-time monitoring to keep the customer service show running smoothly.
Why You Need Call Center Workforce Management
Focusing on workforce management can transform your call center into an efficient workplace that enhances customer satisfaction, improves the employee experience, and supports your bottom line.
Let’s take a closer look at why a WFM strategy is so essential.
- Better Customer Experience: Imagine a situation where customers are promptly connected to the right agent who efficiently addresses their concerns. That’s the essence of effective WFM—it reduces wait times, ensures accurate agent-customer matching, and facilitates quicker resolutions.
- Reduce Employee and Manager Burnout: In the fast-paced environment of a call center, the constant influx of calls can be overwhelming. WFM serves as a buffer, efficiently distributing workloads and schedules to prevent burnout for both agents and managers.
- Better Predictive Forecasting: Peering into the future is a feature of WFM. It helps you predict call volumes, staffing needs, and scheduling, ensuring the call center is prepared to meet demand.
- Call Center Efficiency: Efficiency is crucial in the call center domain. WFM fine-tunes the operational mechanics, ensuring a smooth flow from managing call queues to optimizing agent schedules.
- Maximize Return on ROI: An effective WFM system improves service delivery and benefits finances. By optimizing resources, it reduces operational costs, increasing your return on investment.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Workforce Management
Getting started with WFM in a call center is manageable with the right guidance. We’ll break down each step, explaining their roles in WFM amidst the complexities of call center rules, scheduling challenges, customer behavior, and varying agent skills.
Step 1: Build a Workforce Management Team
Creating a WFM team is about carefully selecting experts with specific skills that complement each other. These might include forecasting specialists who can predict call volumes, scheduling experts who can optimize agent rosters, and real-time analysts who can make adjustments on the fly.
By forming a team with diverse yet complementary skills, you’re setting up a strong foundation for efficient call center operations. The team should clearly understand call center rules, scheduling restrictions, and the varying skills and preferences of agents to manage the workforce effectively.
Step 2: Have the Right WFM Tools
The essence of easing into WFM is having the right tools that simplify the complex tasks of forecasting, scheduling, and real-time monitoring.
Tools like forecasting software help predict call volumes based on historical data and trends, while scheduling tools automate the creation of agent rosters, taking into account the different skills, preferences, and availability of agents. Real-time monitoring tools provide insights into current call center activities, enabling quick adjustments to meet the demands of the moment.
Step 3: Forecasting
Forecasting is the art and science of predicting future call volumes and workload. It delves into historical data, analyzes patterns, and uses statistical models to project future call traffic.
Accurate forecasting is crucial as it informs the scheduling process, ensuring that the right number of agents with the right skills are available to meet the anticipated demand.
Step 4: Track KPIs
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are metrics that provide a snapshot of your call center’s performance. Beyond forecasting, tracking KPIs like service level, adherence to the schedule, and average handle time helps you understand how well the call center is meeting its objectives. Regular monitoring of KPIs provides insights into areas of improvement, helping you make data-driven decisions to enhance performance.
Step 5: Scheduling
Scheduling is a complex puzzle that requires balancing the call center’s needs with agent preferences and skills. Effective scheduling ensures that agents are assigned to shifts where their skills are most needed, while also considering their availability and preferences. It’s about creating a schedule that maximizes service levels, minimizes costs, and promotes a positive work environment.
Step 6: Agent Assigning
Assigning agents entails matching the right agents with the right tasks. Understanding agents’ varying skills and strengths is crucial to ensure they’re placed in roles where they can excel and contribute positively to the customer experience. By giving agents tasks where they can shine, you maximize their potential, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.
Step 7: Intraday Management
Intraday management involves real-time monitoring and adjustments to ensure that the call center adapts to the dynamic nature of the workload. Whether facing a sudden spike in call volumes or unexpected agent absences, intraday management helps you to react quickly in order to maintain consistent service levels.
Step 8: Build a Knowledge Base for Employees
Creating a knowledge base (KB) for employees is about providing agents with accessible information when they need it. A well-organized KB reduces response times, increases consistency, and improves customer satisfaction. Building an effective KB involves choosing the right software, organizing information efficiently, and keeping it updated.
Step 9: Ensure WFM Compliance
Ensuring WFM compliance involves adhering to relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards. WFM solutions help mitigate non-compliance risks by providing real-time visibility into agent activities and automating the tracking of agent training and certifications. This is especially important in highly regulated industries to prevent errors, protect customer privacy, and maintain service level agreements.
It’s Not Just a Numbers Game: Agents Matter, Too
In the dynamic world of call centers, agents are the driving force behind stellar customer service. For these agents to excel, a supportive work environment is essential—one that nurtures their skills, acknowledges their efforts, and tends to their well-being.
The happier your agents are, the happier your customers will be, too.
Here’s how you can create a positive work environment for your agents:
- Quality Feedback Loops: Agents need timely, constructive feedback to help them elevate their customer service skills. Quality feedback loops serve as conduits between present performance and future improvements. When you give quality feedback, your agents get better.
- Employee Scheduling Flexibility: Agents are individuals with lives beyond the call center, not robots bound to fixed schedules. Offering scheduling flexibility helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance, which in turn fosters satisfaction and productivity. Aim to make schedules that align with business needs while accommodating agent preferences as much as possible.
- Enjoyable Work Environment: The fast-paced nature of call centers can be taxing. Introducing areas of calm amidst the hustle, whether through comfortable seating areas or stress-relieving amenities, can provide a much-needed break.
- Regular Breaks and Lunch Time: Breaks serve as brief respites in a demanding work day. Encouraging agents to take these breaks to unwind and recharge is essential for sustaining energy and morale. It’s about fostering a culture where breaks are enjoyed, and lunchtime serves as a genuine pause from work.
Agent Retention through Continuous Learning and Training: Providing continuous learning and training opportunities promotes a path of progression for agents in a call center. With detailed metrics as guides, agents can gauge their current standing and the potential for advancement.